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October 30, 2012 7:36 am

EDITORIAL: A tale of two taxes:

Written by Tessa Schweigert

Lodging tax, infrastructure tax distinct issues

Among other significant ballot items, Park County voters will decide the fate of two proposed taxes next week.

It’s important not to confuse the two.

One proposal is a 1-cent sales tax that would go toward infrastructure and maintenance costs for local governments. If passed, Park County residents and tourists will start paying 5 cents on every dollar of taxable goods.

The other measure is to renew the county’s 4 percent lodging tax that’s been in place since the 1980s. The tax is only paid by visitors who stay in local lodging establishments, like hotels and dude ranches. Since that applies to few residents who live here, the tax is almost entirely paid for by travelers, not locals.

We ask voters to consider each of the measures on their own merits — which is exactly what voters have done in past years.

Citizens overwhelmingly rejected the last proposal for an additional 1-cent tax. That was two years ago, when 63 percent of voters across the county rejected a special purpose tax for West Park Hospital.

But by stark contrast, Park County voters recognized the importance of a lodging tax, passing the measure by 73 percent four years ago. That’s substantial support for a tax here, and we hope voters again see the value of the lodging tax when they head to the polls next week.

We understand voters’ anxiety over taxes — especially in this economy — and historic reluctance to approve them. But keep in mind that the lodging tax is far more narrow than a general sales tax. Unless you stay in a local hotel, you’ll never pay it. Many locals are likely oblivious to the fact we even have a lodging tax.

“It’s been going for 26 years; you didn’t even know it, did you?”quipped Sherry Long of Meeteetse, secretary of the Park County Travel Council, at a meeting last week.

Money from the lodging tax helps bolster Park County’s economy, drawing more tourists to our beautiful area with marketing and promotions. Those are tourists who broaden our tax base through the other purchases they make while enjoying Yellowstone National Park and all we have to offer in Park County. In short, the already bleak economic outlook for local governments would only worsen if the lodging tax fails.

You likely don’t pay the lodging tax firsthand, but we all reap its benefits.


  • Comment Link October 30, 2012 10:12 am posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    If anyone thinks the penny tax will ever go away,I have some green cheese on the moon for you. Watch out for those tax & spend RINO's.

  • Comment Link October 31, 2012 12:33 pm posted by clipstein

    the waste of money is beyond my little mind and no one is bringing up the money wasted on the fiber, pool etc......sad but true storey and the people pay for it....you are chasing the seniors, the youth out of powell... what a shame

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